Tuesday, June 28, 2011

IMBEL MD Series Assault Rifle

IMBEL MD-2 rifle (MD-3 rifle in the insert below)

The MD-2 assault rifle was developed by IMBEL (Industria de Materiel Belico do Brasil). Development began circa 1982, first prototype, named MD-1, appeared in 1983 and final version,named MD-2, came out circa 1985 and later was adopted by Brasilian military.

MD-2 started as a simply scaled down FN FAL rifle (manufactured in Brasil under license as IMBEL LAR), but during the design time the FAL locking system (tilting block) was replaced by M16-type rotating bolt. The receiver design is, however, still very similar to FAL.

MD-2 is a gas operated, selective fire assault rifle, with rotating bolt locking. Trigger group is mounted into the pistol grip unit, which is hinged to the receiver and folds down and forward for disassembly and maintenance. MD-2 featured side-folding metallic buttstock, MD-3 rifle is similar to the MD-2 but has fixed plastic buttstock. MD-2 uses any M16 style magazines.

Caliber: 5.56x45 mm (.223 remington)
Action: Gas operated, rotating bolt
Overall length: 1010 mm (764 mm with folded stock)
Barrel length: 453 mm
Weigth: 4.4 kg
Rate of fire: 700 rounds per minute
Magazine capacity: 20 or 30 rounds

Thursday, June 23, 2011


The FN CAL ("Carabine Automatique Légère", or Light Automatic Carbine) was first demonstrated in 1967. It was an early attempt of the famous Belgian company Fabrique Nationale (FN) to produce an assault rifle chambered for then-new American 5.56mm small-bore, high-velocity cartridge. The FN CAL rifle was designed with mass production in mind, with extensive use of steel stampings and plastics. However, the production life of this rifle was relatively short, and only about 12 000 of FN CAL rifles were manufactured before FN closed the CAL production line in 1977 and switched to more promising design, known as FN FNC. Most of these rifles were sold in Latin America and Africa. The main problems, associated with FN CAL rifles, were complexity of manufacture of certain parts, insufficient reliability and somewhat complex maintenance procedures.

FN CAL assault rifle with fixed butt

The FN CAL assault rifle is gas operated, select-fire weapon. It uses short-stroke gas piston, located above the barrel. The locking is achieved by rotating bolt with multiple radial lugs that engage the barrel extension. Receiver is made from steel stampings and assembled from two parts (upper and lower), hinged at the front. Trigger unit is equipped with 4-position safety / fire selector, and allows for single shots, 3-round bursts and full automatic fire. The charging handle is located on the right side of the receiver, and moves along with the bolt group when gun is fired. Rifle can be fitted with fixed plastic butt or side-folding metallic butt. Standard sights consist of front post and L-shaped rear sight with two apertures (for 250 and 400 meters range). The muzzle compensator / flash hider is shaped to accept rifle grenades; the US-made M203 grenade launcher can be fitted under the rifle, if required. Feed was from proprietary box magazines with 20- or 30-round capacity.

FN CAL assault rifle with folding butt and optional telescope sight

Caliber: 5.56x45 mm
Action: Gas operated, rotating bolt
Overall length: 926 mm
Barrel length: 467 mm
Weight: 3.0 kg empty
Rate of fire: 850 rounds per minute
Magazine capacity: 20 or 30 rounds

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Advanced Infantry Combat Weapon

The AICW (Advanced Infantry Combat Weapon) is a joint development of the Australian DSTO (Government operated Defence Science and Technology Organisation), and private companies Metal Storm and Tenix Defence. This development has been carried out since the turn of 21st century, closely following the concept of the American XM29 OICW system. Overall, AICW represents the modular weapon system that combines the 5.56mm rifle/carbine copmponent as a host (basic) platform with 40mm multi-shot grenade launcher (G/L) module and multi-purpose electro-optical sighting system, which can be used to fire either rifle or G/L component, and also can provide recon data to external "consumers" such as tactical computers.
2001 concept of the AICW system

The host rifle component of the AICW is the updated Australian-made F88 rifle, which is a license-built Steyr AUG.However, the basic F88 rifle has been extensively modified to accept other elements of the system - for example, receiver has been upgraded to receive the G/L module at the top, and the buttstock has been enlarged to accomodate G/L electronic fire contol module. Other changes include modification to the safety and trigger arrangements - AICW system has a single trigger for both weapon components (5.56 and 40mm), and a three position (safe - rifle - G/L) safety/selector switch at the side of the pistol grip.
2003 concept of the AICW system

The most interesting part of the AICW weapon is the multi-shot Metal Storm 40mm grenade launcher, which looks like a single 40mm G/L barrel but contains three 40mm projectiles stacked one behind the another. These projectiles are launched using the electric ignition impulses, provided by the fire control module built into the buttstock of the host rifle. Since the muzzle velocity of these projectiles is slightly more than usual for 40mm handheld G/L (95m/s instead of 75m/s), host rifle incorporates the recoil reduction buffer, that allows the Metal Storm G/L barrel to recoil against the spring, decreasing the peak recoil impulse.
2005 testing prototype AICW VX3 weapon

The top of the receiver hosts the multi-role sights of various type and make. At the AICW VX3 live fire demonstartions that took place in the summer of 2005, AICW prototypes were displayed with ITL Viper multi-purpose rifle sight (that incorporates laser range-finder and digital compas), or with Vinghog Vingsight Fire Control System. At the present time (late 2005) AICW prototypes have not yet fired 40mm grenades with live warheads, nor incorporated an airburst facility. However, it is stated that it is possible to easily adapt most of the existing 40mm grenade warheads to the Metal Storm technology, including air-bursting grenades that are now in development in several countries.

At the present time AICW weapons are available only as the "3rd generation technology demonstrators", that completed first live-fire trials (as a complete system) in the summer of 2005. Current Australian MOD plans state that ADF may start to purchase AICW systems in around 2010-2012.

Caliber: 5.56x45mm NATO + 40mm
Action: Gas operated, rotating bolt + Metal Storm patented stacked-projectile caseless
Overall length: 738 mm
Barrel length: n/a
Weigth: 6.48 kg unloaded, w/o sight; 7.85 kg loaded w/o sight (30 5.56mm + 3 40mm rounds); 9.9-9.9 kg loaded w. electronic sight
Rate of fire: 650 rounds per minute (for 5.56mm barrel)
Capacity: 30 rounds (5.56mm) magazine plus 3 40mm rounds in the G/L barrel

Friday, June 17, 2011

Steyr AUG (Armee Universal Gewehr - Universal Army Rifle)

The Steyr AUG (Armee Universal Gewehr - Universal Army Rifle) had been indevelopment since the late 1960s, as a replacement for venerable but obsolete Stg.58 (FN FAL) battle rifles for Austrian army. It was developed by the Austrian Steyr-Daimler-Puch company (now the Steyr-Mannlicher AG & Co KG) in close conjunction with Austrian Army. The major design is attributed to the three men - Horst Wesp, Karl Wagner and Karl Möser, who developed most of the rifle features. From the Austrian Office of Military Technology the project was supervised by the Colonel Walter Stoll. The new rifle has been adopted by the Austrian Army in 1977, as the Stg.77 (Assault rifle, model of 1977), and production began in 1978. Since then, the AUG gained serious popularity, being adopted by the armed forces of Australia, Austria, New Zealand, Oman, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Ireland and some others. It also was widely purchased by various security and law enforcement agencies worldwide, including the US Coastal Guard. The Steyr AUG can be considered as the most commercially successful bullpup assault rifle to date. Since the 1997, the Steyr-Mannlicher produced an updated version of the AUG, the AUG A2.
Steyr AUG A1 Carbine (police black colour)

In around 2005, Steyr-Mannlicher introduced the most recent version of AUG, the AUG A3. This version is characterized by addition of four Picatinny-type accessory rails - one at the top of the receiver, and three around the barrel, in front of the receiver - at both sides and below it. Therefore there AUG A3 has no standard / integral sighting equipment; instead, any open, telescope or night vision sights can be installed on the upper rail, using appropriate mountings. Lower rail can be used to mount various attachments like tactical front grips, flash-lights, and a specially designed 40mm grenade launcher. Side rails can be used for equipment like laser-aiming devices.

 Steyr AUG A1 in standard rifle configuration (military green colour)

Some said that the AUG rifle was revolutionary in many respects when it first appeared, but this is not true. In fact, the AUG is a clever combination of the various previously known ideas, assembled into one sound, reliable and aesthetically attractive package. Let's look at this a little closer. Bullpup configuration: The Steyr AUG is not a first military bullpup ever devised. In fact, British Enfield EM-2 and Soviet Korobov TKB-408 bullpup assault rifles precede the AUG by some 25-30 years. The French FAMAS bullpup also appeared on the scene at the very same time, as the AUG did. Plasticfirearm housing: Another Soviet experimental bullpup design, Korobov TKB-022, had the plastic housing as early as in 1962, and the FAMAS rifle, again, has this same feature at the same time as AUG did. Telescope sight as a standard: The British EM-2 bullpup rifle of late 1940s, as well as the experimental Canadian FN FAL prototypes of early 1950s, also featured a low-magnification telescope sights as their prime sighting equipment. A modular design: First systems, consisting of various firearms based on the same receiver and action (automatic rifle, light machine gun, carbine) were originally developed in 1920s in France by Rossignol and in Soviet Russia by Fedorov. Considering all said above, one must agree that the AUG was a logical development of various well known ideas,and a really successful one.

Steyr AUG with M203 40mmgrenade launcher

In general, the AUG is known for good ergonomics,decent accuracy and a good reliability.

Steyr AUG A2 with Carbine configuration (shorter barrel) and with Picatinny-type rail installed instead of standard telescope sight

AUG is built around the aluminium casting receiver, with steel reinforcement inserts. One such insert is used to provide the locking to the removable barrels and the rotating bolt, thus relieving the receiver from most of the firing stress. Other inserts are used as a bearings for the bolt carrier guide rods.
Comparison of various AUG barrels, from top to bottom: LMG/heavy barrel with bipod;standard rifle barrel; carbine barrel; SMG barrel.

The AUG uses a short piston stroke, gas operated action, with the gas piston mounted inside the compact gas block, which is fixed to the barrel. The gas cylinder is offset to the right from the barrel. Gas piston has its own return spring, contained inside the gas block. The gas system features a three positions gas regulator, which allows for two open positions (for normal and fouled conditions) and one closed position (for launching the rifle grenades). The gas block also contains a barrel fix / release lock and a front grip hinge. Each barrel has eight lugs, that lock into the steel insert in the receiver, and there's four basic barrel patterns for the AUG: standard rifle barrel is 508 mm (~20 in) long. "Compact" or "Submachine gun" barrel is 350 mm (13.8 in) long, "Carbine" barrel is 407 mm (16 in) long, and the heavy / LMG (light machine gun) barrel is 621 mm (24.4 in) long. On each rifle barrels can be exchanged in the matter of seconds. Each barrel is fitted with the flash hider, and the heavy 621 mm barrel also is fitted with lightweight folding bipods. There's no bayonet lug on Austrian service rifles, but it can be installed if required.
Steyr AUG A3 in Sniper configuration, with heavier and longer 20inch barrel,detachable bipod and long-range telescopic sight

Barrel replacement procedure, as noted above, takes only few seconds (assuming that the shooter has the spare barrel handy). To remove the barrel, one must take off the magazine, and clear the rifle by operating the cocking handle. Then, grasp the barrel by the front grip, push the barrel retaining button at the gas block, and rotate the barrel and pull it out of the rifle. To install a new barrel, simply push the barrel down into the front of the receiver all the way and then rotate it until it locks. The rifle now is ready to be loaded and fired.
Steyr AUG A3 Carbine with 16inch barrel and special 40mm grenade launcher;grenade launcher sight is attached to the top of removable telescopic rifle sight

The bolt system consists of the bolt carrier, which has two large hollow guide rods, attached to its forward part. The left rod also serves as a link to the charging handle, and the right rod serves as the action rod, which transmits the impulse from the gas piston to the bolt carrier. The rotating bolt has 7 locking lugs, claw extractor and a plunger-type spring loaded ejector. Standard bolt has its extractor on the right side, to facilitate right-side ejection, but the left-side bolts (with mirrored positions of extractor and ejector) are available for those who need left-side ejection. The two return springs are located behind the bolt carrier, around the two string guide rods, that are located inside the bolt carrier guide rods. The cocking handle is located at the left side of the gun and normally does not reciprocate when gun is fired, but it can be solidly engaged to the bolt group if required by depressing the small button on the charging handle. On the latest AUG A2 variant, the charging handle was made folding up and of slightly different shape. The AUG action features a bolt stop device, that holds the bolt group open after the last round of ammunition from the magazine is fired. To release the bolt after the magazine replacement, one must pull the charging handle.

 Steyr AUG A3 Carbine with 16inch barrel and optional forward grip / tactical flashlight and telescope sight

The hammer unit is made as a separate assembly and almost entirely of plastic (including the hammer itself). Only springs and pins are steel. The hammer unit is located in the butt and is linked to the sliding trigger by the dual trigger bars. The safety is of the cross-bolt, push-button type and located above the pistol grip. There's no separate fire mode selector on the AUG rifles. Instead, the trigger itself is used to control the mode of fire. Pulling it half the way back will produce single shots, while the full pull will produce automatic fire. The enlarged triggerguard encloses the whole hand and allows the gun to be fired in winter gloves or mittens.
Cross-section ofthe Steyr AUG rifle

The standard sighting equipment of the Steyr AUG rifle is the 1.5X telescope sight, with aiming reticle made as a circle. This circle is so dimensioned so its visible inner diameter is equal to the visible height of the standing man at 300 meters range. The adjustment knobs on the sight are used only for zeroing. The sight housing, which is integral to the receiver on the AUG A1 models, also features an emergency backup iron sights at the top of the telescope sight housing. Some early production AUG rifles of A1 pattern were fitted with receivers that had an integral scope mounts. On the AUG A2 models, the standard scope mount can be quickly removed and replaced by the Picatinny-type mounting rail.

The housing of the AUG rifles, integral with the pistol handle and triggerguard, is made from the high impact-resistant polymer, and is usually of green (military) or black (police) colour. The housing has two symmetrical ejection ports, one of which is always covered by the plastic cover. The rubber-coated buttplate is detachable and, when removed, opens the access to the rifle internals, including the hammer unit and the bolt group. The buttplate is held in position by the cross-pin, which also serves a s a rear sling swivel attachment point.

The AUG is fed from the detachable box magazines, that hold 30 (standard rifle) or 42 (light machine gun) rounds. The magazines are made from semi-translucent, strong polymer. The magazine release button is located behind the magazine port and is completely ambidextrous (some said that it is equally NOT comfortable for either hand use).

Caliber: 5.56mm NATO (.223rem)
Action: Gas operated, rotating bolt
Overall length: 805 mm (with standard 508 mm barrel)
Barrel length: 508 mm (also 350 mm SMG, 407 mm Carbine or 621 mm LMG heavy barrel)
Weight: 3.8 kg unloaded (with standard 508 mm barrel)
Magazines: 30 or 42 rounds box magazines
Rate of fire: 650 rounds per minute
Effective range of fire: 450-500 meters with standard assault rifle barrel

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Steyr ACR

The Advanced Combat Rifle program was started by the US Army in the late 1980s with the main goal to improve the hit probability of average infantry soldier by at least 100 percents above the M16A2 capabilities. During this trials, held in the early 1990s, some new and existing designs from several companies were tested, with more or less success, but no one achieved the 100% improvement in hit probability over the existing M16 rifle, so program was terminated and all participating designs were freezed, which is pity. One of the most interesting participants was a design of the Austrian company Steyr-Mannlicher AG.
Steyr ACR

The Steyr ACR was built as an attempt to revive the fleschette ammunition concept, first tried in the 1960s during US Army SPIW program. In 1960s, the fleschette concept was a failure. In 1990s, it was much more sucessful, but not enough to be worth of total rearming to the new infantry weapon system.
Steyr ACR layout schematic

Steyr ACR is built around a specially designed cartridge of nominal caliber of 5.56mm. This cartridge has simple, cylindrically shaped plastic case. The fleschette, or dart, is totally enclosed in the case. Fleschette diameter is about 1.5 mm (.06 inch), lenght is about 41 mm (1.6 inch), weight 0.66 gramm (10 grains). Fleschette is partially enclosed into discarding sabot, and leaves the muzzle at impressive velocity of 1450 meters per second (4750 fps), still retaining velocity of 910 m/s (2980 fps) at the range of 600 meters. The plastic case had no rim or extracting groove, and priming compound is located annually at the inside wall of the case.
Steyr ACR action drawing from Steyr patent
gas piston in forward position, breech block with chamber in upper position

To fire such uncommon cartridge, Steyr ACR has equally uncommon design. Barrel of nominal caliber of 5.56mm, has a very slow rifling to give initial stabilisation to the fleschette, which is stabilised in flight by its own small fins. Instead of common linear-moving bolt, Steyr ACR have separate chamber (breech block), which can be moved up and down. The whole action is powered by gas drive, which has annual gas piston, located around the barrel. This is how it works:

At first, lets suppose that chamber is empty and rifle is manually cocked for the first shot.In this position the chamber block is its lowest position, aligned with the topmost round in magazine.The gas piston with its operating rod is in its rearmost position and under the pressure of the return spring.When trigger is pressed, the operating rod with gas piston are released and started forward under the pressure of the return spring, which is located around the barrel. This movement, at first, via special rammer, feeds the first round forward from magazine and into the chamber, and then, via shaped cam and breech block spring, rises the breech block with the cartridge into the topmost position. In this position the fixed firing pin passes through the hole in the top of the chamber and penetrates the cartridge wall, igniting the primer composition and firing the round. When projectile (fleschette with sabot) passes the gas port, some of powder gases began to move the gas piston back. This movement, via the operating rod and shaped cam, lowers the breech block with empty case out of alignment with barrel and down to the magazine. When breech comes to stop in the lowest position, a separate rammer feeds next cartridge forward and out of magazine, chambering it. At the same time, the fired case is pushed forward out of the chamber by the next cartridge, and when cleared from the chamber, the spent case simply falls down out of the rifle via the ejection port. The ejection port is located at the bottom of the rifle, ahead of magazine, and this eliminates one of the biggest problems of any bull-pup rifle - a non-ambidextrous (or, in this case - fully ambidextrous) ejection.

If rifle is set to the full auto mode, the firing cycle is repeated as described above. Otherwise, the loaded breech remains in its lowest position, awaiting for the next trigger pull.

This quite comprehensive action was concealed in sleek and comfortable polymer case with AUG-styled pistol grip and large ventilated upper rib with fixed sights. Optical sights also were fitted. Due to extremely high projectile velocity, flight time was very short at any practical ranges, and trajectory was very flat, giving the shooter almost ray-gun performance, which allowed to fire without prior calculations of point of impact - speaking simply, at any practical combat ranges shooter will hit where it aimed, regardless target movements (projectile flight time to the target at 300 meters is about 0.2 seconds). Due to high velocity, Steyr ACR had good killing power and armour piercing capabilities, and due to the low weight of the projectile recoil was low. But it was not enough to double the M16 performance, so, for now, the Steyr ACR remains in prototype or preproductional state and the program is freezed if not abandoned at all.

Caliber: 5.6 mm fleschette
Action: Gas operated, rising breech
Overall length: mm
Barrel length: 540 mm
Weigth: 3.23 kg w/o magazine
Rate of fire: rounds per minute
Magazine capacity: 24 rounds

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Modern Robots at War


The REMOTEC ANDROS RONS has proven most effective in IED disposal across the Iraqi Theater.

The "ANDROS" (collectively a part of the RONS - "Remote Ordnance Neutralization System") is a class of remotely-controlled bomb disposal robot used by the American military as well as by SWAT and law enforcement groups. The basic kit includes the LCD monitor, the RONS robot itself, the communications cable supply and the applicable tools needed to keep the RONS functioning at peak performance. Operators are trained on an EOD Robot Training Simulator. The use of robots on the battlefields of today removes the direct risk that EOD personnel were often exposed to in their everyday actions. Most of us rarely have the threat of being blown up in our workplace - EOD personnel lived with that threat routinely until the increased use of battlefield robots made it possible for them to handle explosives from a distance away. In Iraq where the IED is a top killer of American and coalition troops, systems such as the RONS has become a godsend to service personnel and their families. The ANDROS family of robots is designed by the REMOTEC firm, operating as a subsidiary of defense giant Northrop Grumman. Northrop claims to have some 1,000 ANDROS robots in circulation worldwide. There are five major ANDROS variants currently in circulation with the base model being the "F6A". 


The F6A weighs in at a respectable 485lbs, features an extending manipulator arm (25lb limit) and four cameras. She is marketed as a "heavy duty" robot with the speed and agility to handle most any task. There is a color camera with full light, zoom, pan and tilt functions. Another camera serves the operator with 216:1 zoom and image stabilization. There is an 80-watt adjustable halogen light and an optional IR lens. The extension arm maintains a third camera with 40:1 zoom capability. There is also a 24-inch camera extender. The two-way weatherproof communications system offers the ANDROS operator full listening capability by way of a microphone and speaker. The gripper arm is fully positional with seven degrees of freedom and can be fitted with optional sensor or weapon systems as needed. Pneumatic wheels can replace the base tracked system without the need for tools to be used in the conversion. The integrated track system allows for traverse across a variety of uneven surfaces including ditches (up to 21-inches), obstacles (up to 18-inches) and stairs (up to 45.75 degree slopes). Three data links make up the communications/control system on the ANDROS F6A. A fiber-optic cable is fed from a spool mounted to the rear of the main compartment. Top speed is approximately 3.5 miles per hour and the turning radius is essentially the length of the robot thanks to its track system. The switchbox can be removed to allow for direct connection to the robot itself. ANDROS accessories include the control station, audio/video attachments, various manipulator arm tools, optional sensors, spare battery kit and maintenance kits.

The operator views the ANDROS actions by way of a 15" LCD anti-glare monitor with picture-in-picture display to access all camera mounts at once. The screen displays current battery life of the console, camera settings and sensor information. The camera feeds can all be recorded and the operator had access to an optional headset display system. Control is by way of joystick.

Other ANDROS Models

The Mark VA1 is similar to the F6A model but is larger and weighs in at 790lbs. The "Mini ANDROS-II" is a smaller cousin to the base ANDROS and weighs just 225lbs. The "Wolverine" is the largest of the ANDROS family line and tops the scales at 810lbs. The "Wolverine V2" was a custom design solution weighing in at 1,200lbs to be used for traversing underground mines for the Mine Safety and Health Administration service. She sports a wheeled or tracked design as required by the operator. The HD1 is another wheeled or tracked design but the smallest in the ANDROS family line at just 200lbs.

ANDROS F6A Walk-Around

The basic body compartment of the RONS houses the battery and motor, controlling the extended RONS functions. One of the four available cameras is fitted to a telescoping "neck" and helps to provide the visual cues and references back to the operator, viewing what the RONS "sees" on his/her LCD monitor display. There are four accessible quick-action rubber-tired road wheels, two to a side. These can be replaced in use by the integrated tracked wheel system to allow for traverse across uneven terrain including staircases. The rear of the body compartment maintains the cable supply along a spool. The main arm attachment is a large, two-finger grappling system with a wide range of movement and plays a prominent role in the handling of explosive ordnance. The RONS provides adequate mobility and close-range manipulation capabilities at a relatively acceptable purchase and operating cost. Each system is directed via a remote human interface a distance away. Communications from operator to robot are held transceiver/received within a secure communications channel.

Current Use and Deployment

Based on a Naval Sea Systems Command report, all four services of the United States military have fielded some version of RONS with over 270 having been purchased in total. Continuous improvements have extended the life of each system and battlefield experience has brought about changes to doctrine. Over a five year span alone, some 35 improvement programs have been run on RONS and EOD teams have seen considerable activity with the systems across Iraq. The RONS program has also benefitted from EOD personnel returning from the Iraqi Theater of War and offering their experiences for future development of RONS systems. Iraqi military forces are also being trained by American personnel in use of the RONS and like systems in combating the IED threat.


The URBOT can perform a series of tasks including examination and destruction of IED (Improvised Explosive Devices). It has seen use in bomb squads and in the battlefield (Operation Iraqi Freedom). The system is operated by remote control. Planned variants include a mobile remote controlled battlefield surgeon unit and an armed hunter-killer type system.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

US Navy Aircraft Carriers prior to WW2

USS Langley

The USS Langley was converted from the collier USS Jupiter - Collier Number 3.

The USS Langley (CV-1) was the United States Navy's first aircraft carrier. The hull of the Langley had seen prior years of service under the name of USS Jupiter (Collier # 3), a collier or coal vessel that also served as the USN's test bed for its first turbo electrically-propelled ship. This experiment was designed to increase safety on board USN vessels by not using the standard coal burning furnaces, thus reducing the chance of an explosion caused by coal dust. President William H. Taft attended the keel laying ceremony and the ship was officially commissioned on April 7th, 1913.

Jupiter had a notable career ferrying Marines of the Pacific Fleet at Mazatlan, Mexico during the Vera Cruz crisis. On her way back she steamed through the Panama Canal on Columbus Day, the first vessel to make the crossing from the west to into the east. Her primary duty then was as a coaling ship of the fleet and was sent to France in both 1917 and 1918. Interestingly enough, on her first voyage she transported a naval aviation detachment of 7 officers and 122 men to England. It was the first United States aviation detachment to arrive in Europe, commanded by Lieutenant Kenneth Whiting, who later became Langley’s first executive officer. Her conversion to an aircraft carrier was authorized on July 11th, 1919, to which she later sailed into Hampton Roads, Virginia, to be decommissioned as the USS Jupiter in March of 1920. The US Navy chose their first carrier to be named as the USS Langley (CV-1) after Samuel Pierpoint Langley (1834-1906), an American pioneer involved in the designing of heavier-than-air craft. This did not bode well with another famous aviation pioneer, Orville Wright, who had his own ideas of who the ship should have been named after.

The USS Langley became an aircraft carrier for the useful purpose of conducting trials into the relatively new idea of seaborne aviation and many changes were required in making taking her from her collier ship origins. The superstructure, cranes, kingposts, masts, and funnels were removed while a rectangular flight deck was installed. The full-length wood flight deck was fitted to a steel framework. Below the deck was spacing to allow for ventilation and natural lighting to help below-deck work and general safety conditions. One elevator was added amidships and 2 launch catapults were installed on the flight deck.

The six large cargo holds (original used for coal storage on the Jupiter) proved ideal as aircraft hanger decks for aircraft and associated machinery spaces positioned aft. The electric drive motors remained from her Jupiter days and powered 3 boilers, producing 190psi and 6,500 shaft horsepower to 2 propeller shafts. This powerplant arrangement allowed the new displacement of 15,150 tons full to make an impressive 15.5 knots. For self-defense, the USS Langley was fitted with 4 x 5” 51 caliber single gun mounts. CV-1 had room for approximately 34 aircraft (biplanes) as folding wings were not en vogue during this time. The operational crew component comprised of 468 sailors and applicable air wing personnel. Her dimensions showcased a length of 542 feet, 3 inches and a width of 65ft, 3 inches. Two gantry cranes were fitted while Number 1 Hole was dedicated to aviation fuel storage. The starboard side uptakes were cross connected to the port side and hinged down for unobstructed flight deck operations.

An interesting historical footnote of Langley lore was a carrier pigeon house installed on the stern section of the ship between the 5" 51 caliber anti-aircraft guns. Pigeons were still utilized on navy ships of the time and carried aboard seaplanes for message transport, this beginning about the time of World War I. The US Navy pigeons were "trained" at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard at the same time that USS Langley was being converted to CV-1. Though the use of trained animals might sound applicable here, it presented the operator with some natural dilemmas. It seemed that when a handful of pigeons were released at any one time, they returned to the ship. On another occasion however, a large number of pigeons were released near Tangier Island in the Chesapeake Bay and did not return, instead deciding to fly southwards and eventually ending up at the Norfolk shipyard. For such "dereliction" of pigeon training, these particular messenger pigeons were "discharged" from sea duty and not returned to Langley. The pigeon house was therefore rebuilt as the executive officer's quarters.

October 1922 was an important month in naval aviation history, marking the first take-off and landing of an aircraft from an aircraft carrier at sea. One such Vought VE-7 Bluebird biplane made history by being the first airplane to take-off from the USS Langley on October 17th, 1922 with Lieutenant Commander Virgil C. (Squash) Griffin at the controls of the fighter aircraft. Nine days later, on the 26th, Lieutenant Commander G. de Chevalier landed an Aeromarine 39B biplane aircraft on the deck of the USS Langley while she was under steam.

After some additional repairs, the USS Langley proceeded to the Caribbean Sea for carrier flight operation consisting of launching and landing tests. By June she was training along the Atlantic coast until 1924. Langley then participated in training maneuvers and spent the summer at Norfolk for repairs. In November, Langley departed for the West Coast and arrived in San Diego, California to join the Pacific Battle Fleet. For the next twelve years she would operate off the West Coast and in Hawaiian waters, undergoing basic fleet training, pilot training, and tactical game exercises.

In October 1936, Langley returned to Mare Island Navy Yard in California for an overhaul and conversion as a seaplane tender. With her career as an aircraft carrier officially ended, her trained pilots were transferred to the USS Lexington and USS Saratoga. Langley was now re-classified as AV-3 with the conversion completing in February of 1937. She was then assigned to the Aircraft Scouting Force and commenced her tending duties out of Seattle-Washington, Sitka-Alaska, Pearl Harbor-Hawaii, and San Diego-California. In July of 1939, she departed to assume her duties with the Pacific Fleet at Manila in the Philippines arriving in September that year.

Upon the US entry into World War II, Langley was anchored off Cavite, Philippines and remained undetected by Japanese forces. On December 8th, following the invasion of the Philippines by Japan, she steamed from Cavite to Balikpapan in the Dutch East Indies. Japanese advances continued and Langley was ordered to depart for Australia, arriving in Darwin on January 1st, 1942. The US Navy at this time was stretched perilously thin so Langley became part of a combined naval force with the American-British-Dutch-Australian Command (ABDACOM). In this capacity, USS Langley assisted the Royal Australian Air Force in running anti-submarine patrols out of Darwin, Australia.

With the Allies needing aircraft in Southeast Asia, Langley ferried 32 Curtiss P-40 Warhawk fighter aircraft assigned to the United States Army Air Force 49th Pursuit Group to Tjilatjap, Java in February. Langley then left Tjilatjap on February 27th to rejoin her destroyer group made up of the Whipple and Edsall. When she was about 75 miles (120 km) south of Tjilatjap, nine Japanese twin-engine Mitsubishi G4M "Betty" bombers attacked her. During the attack, USS Langley was hit by no less than 5 bombs, killing 16 of her crew members. Her planes resting along her flight deck were also set afire in the attack and ensuing explosions below her flight deck impaired her ability to steer, forcing her to list to port. After a valiant attempt by her crew to return to Java, the USS Langley went dead in the water. With her engine room now flooding beyond hope of recovery, the order was given to abandon ship for all hands aboard. Once all crew were safely transferred off the ship, the accompanying destroyer Whipple fired nine 4" inch shells into USS Langley while Edsall fired two torpedoes into her side for good measure. The decision to sink Langley was to ensure she would not become a Japanese war prize. The surviving Langley crew went on to serve on many other carriers in the conflict, aiding greatly to the Allied war effort. Despite her unceremonious fate at sea, the USS Langley had already achieved a memorable and lasting legacy for those that served under her banner.

The USS Jupiter/USS Langley received several awards during her tenure at sea. As the Jupiter, these included the Mexican Service Medal and the World War 1 victory medal. As the Langley, this included the American Defense Service Medal ("Fleet" clasp), the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal and the World War 2 Victory Medal.

USS Lexington

Originally designed as a battlecruiser, the USS Lexington CV-2 aircraft carrier was lost to action against Japanese forces in the Battle of Coral Sea on May 8th, 1942.

The USS Lexington (CV-2) and the USS Saratoga (CV-3) both served the United States Navy well in the inter-war years, supplying the nation with the priceless experience that would pay off by the time of World War 2. The USS Lexington was the lead ship of the Lexington-class with the Saratoga acting as her sister. The Lexington received her name after the Battle of Lexington in 1775 as part of the American Revolutionary War, the war representing among the earliest action between the rebelling colonists and the British Monarchy. CV-2 became the fourth USN vessel to be named Lexington.

By 1916, World War 1 was in full swing throughout Europe. American involvement in the conflict would not hit a fever pitch until 1918 but plans were being drawn up to bring the military up to fighting speed, particularly the United States Navy. This included the drafting of a collection of powerful battlecruisers, each coming in at 35,300 tons and to be comprised of a six-ship, boiler-powered class. The first two ships would be designated as the USS Lexington (CC-1) and the USS Saratoga (CC-3). The war formally came to a close in November of 1918 and, with it, much of the military buildup for all countries involved. Progress on the battlecruisers continued, albeit in limited fashion, and the CC-1 was laid down on January 8th, 1921 with construction of the ship handled by the Fore River Ship and Engine Building Company of Quincy, Massachusetts (New York Shipbuilding of Camden handled the Saratoga). Also on the horizon was the intended production of the battlecruisers USS Constellation, USS Ranger, USS Constitution and the USS United States.

The Washington Naval Conference - a meeting held by major naval world players taking place in Washington, D.C., to agree to terms of a broad disarmament occurred from November 12th, 1921 into February 6th, 1922. The goal of the conference was more-or-less to preserve peace in the known world without the escalation of arms races as a guiding beacon to further war. As such, certain limitations were agreed upon and enacted to keep naval powers in check. One of the major treaties to come out of the conference became the Washington Naval Treaty. This treaty looked to end "all-new" battleship construction and limit the size and armament of existing surface vessels. This resulted in a number of large, powerful ships being dismantled and scrapped altogether while others were instead converted to less belligerent roles such as that of aircraft carrier. These rules would be skirted by the powers of Germany and Japan, producing two of the most powerful battleships ever made - the KMS Bismarck and the IJN Yamato respectively.

Nevertheless, the CC-1 and CC-3 both fell into this conversion program with the decision formally made on July 1st, 1922. Plans for the construction of the USS Constellation, USS Ranger, USS Constitution and USS United States were therefore scrapped in full. Each remaining ship was displaced down approximately 8,600 tons by the deletion of their 16-inch main guns as well as their applicable turret emplacements and ammunition stores. In their place was installed a large-spanning 880-foot long, 90-foot wide flightdeck suspended some 60 feet above the waterline. A forward-mounted transverse catapult was fitted as were service cranes to handle cargo and seaplanes as needed. Internal storage space would allow for the housing of some 120 aircraft of the day throughout her 450-foot two-story hangar deck. There was also a 120-foot hold for aircraft not in use and additional systems could be suspended from the hangar roof if need be. Two elevators were installed to facilitate the movement of aircraft from deck to deck. Her battlecruiser hull remained largely intact as did her original armor arrangement though additional armor was secured along the decks and plate armoring ran right up to the flight deck. There was an island fitted just forward of the large identifiable funnel and both were set off to the starboard side in a revolutionary new arrangement for aircraft carriers. The funnel would alternatively serve the design well, becoming the structure piece for which the US Navy could adapt new radar installations as they became available. Another key feature was an opening for the release or recovery of boats.

Self-defense was still the order of the day and the new carriers were outfitted with a collection of 8x 8-inch /55 caliber guns, 12 x 5-inch /25 caliber anti-aircraft guns and 4 x 6-pounder saluting cannons. The 8-inch / 55 caliber gun turrets were set in tandem pairs both mounted forward and aft of the island and funnel. Crew complement was reported at 1,899 men made up of 1,730 sailors and 169 officers. Power was derived from 16 x Yarrow boilers powering 4 x General Electric steam turbines and, in turn, powered 4 x main drive motors with an output of 180,000 shaft horsepower. Four turbo-generators fed eight electric motors with two motors to a shaft. The engine arrangement was one key piece retained from the original battlecruiser design. The arrangement allowed for a speed of just over 33 knots to be reached with a range equivalent to 10,000 nautical miles.

Upon delivery and acceptance into service, the USS Lexington (CV-2) became the United States Navy's first fleet aircraft carrier. She was launched to sea on October 3rd, 1925, under sponsorship of Mrs. Theodore Douglas Robinson - then wife to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy - and officially commissioned on December 14th, 1927 with Captain Albert W. Marshall behind the helm. Following the traditional "shake down" period for naval vessels, the USS Lexington joined her allies in the Battle Fleet out of San Pedro, California on April 7th, 1928. She ran through a period of valuable training for her crew, officers and naval aviators and participated in all-important Pacific war games. She would be one of the earliest US Navy ships to received the first maritime production radar system available in the form of the RCA CXAM-1.

At the time of the surprise attack by Japanese forces on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941, the USS Lexington was away on a delivery call to Midway Island to support the garrison of US Marines holding down the fort. Luckily for the American Pacific Fleet, the three major carriers in the region were all out of the harbor at the time of the attack - including the USS Saratoga undergoing a refit in San Diego and the USS Enterprise also out on delivery. Post-attack, the USS Lexington launched her search planes in vain to search for the Japanese fleet but came up empty. Regardless, the US was now officially committed to was with the Empire of Japan and there would be much more in store for the USS Lexington than aircraft deliveries from this point on.

Lexington served as the flagship for Task Force 11 out of Pearl under the command of Vice Admiral Wilson Brown on January 11th, 1942. While en route with TF 11, she was attacked by a contingent of 18 Japanese aircraft but repelled them with her own fighters, resulting in the destruction of 17 of the enemy. She was put on a series of patrols for the time being, actively seeking out the enemy fleet and provided air cover for a Marshall Islands raid. On March 6th, 1942, she met up with Task Force 17 and the much newer USS Yorktown before returning to Pearl for an armament refitting. Her original 8-inch guns and four of her 5-inch guns were replaced with six 28mm quadruple- and thirty 20mm Oerlikon single-mount anti-aircraft cannons. She was back with TF 17 by May 1st.

The Battle of Coral Sea was next on the Lexington's radar. She and TF 17 spotted an enemy task force sent to escort a New Guinea invasion force tasked with the capture of Port Moresby. Port Moresby would serve the Japanese Army and Navy well as a stepping stone to the ultimate invasion of the Australian mainland. The carrier force was counting on an Allied response to the invasion force and was to attack such a response from the vulnerable rear, crushing the attempt in the process. The Japanese Task Force included the light carrier IJN Shoho and the large carriers IJN Shokaku and IJN Zuikaku. USS Lexington and USS Saratoga formed the backbone of the American force ready to match metal for metal.

Bad weather persisted from May 5th to May 6th, to which neither force spotted one another. All that changed on the 7th however as the Japanese invasion force was located. The Americans responded by launching two-thirds of their planes thinking that the Japanese carriers were also among the group of transports. This forced a change of course for the Japanese invasion force but left the IJN Shoho as the primary target to the incoming Allied attack. All she could make due with were her close-range anti-aircraft guns and a small contingent of just 21 aircraft. While the Lexington's aircraft were repelled in the subsequent action by the force of ships, Saratoga's wave hit the Shoho with no less than thirteen 1,000lb bombs, several torpedoes and one crashing SBD Dauntless (her two-man crew was killed in the process). Amazingly, the Americans lost just three aircraft in the fray.

May 8th saw each carrier group only 200 miles apart and both spotted the other in turn, launching their warplanes. Shokaku was hit twice by USS Saratoga dive-bombers, one bomb disabling the launch deck and essentially taking her out of the fight. USS Lexington's aircraft arrived late but an aviator managed a hit to Shokaku to worsen the damage. While she survived the battle, she lost most of her air group at Coral Sea.

On the other side of the battlefield, a 69-strong Japanese aircraft group appeared and laid a direct hit on Yorktown but the resulting destruction was not overly critical to operations. At the same time, Japanese aircraft engaged Lexington and hit her squarely with two torpedoes along her forward portside bow. Simultaneously, Japanese dive-bombers swooped in and managed two direct hits on her from above - one on the funnel structure and one on the forward portside flight deck. The attack jammed the Lexington's elevator in the raised position but her flightdeck was left intact.

The direct blasts and near misses of the Japanese bombs and torpedoes did more internal damage than initially noted. The ripple effect of the explosions had jarred aviation fuel tanks under her flightdeck that, though the internal fires had been put out by crews, the explosive gasses still permeated about the confines of the ship. Approximately an hour after the initial explosions were felt, a seemingly random spark occurred somewhere in the ship, in turn igniting the potent gasses, causing a series of explosions to ripple about the vessel and fires broke out. The ship listed to port and billowed smoke.

Realizing the Lexington was most likely a loss, the remaining aircraft were ordered to fly to their new home aboard the USS Yorktown. Lexington herself was subsequently abandoned per captain's order at 17:00 hours and ultimately done in by two torpedoes from the destroyer USS Phelps to prevent her capture by the enemy. In true honorable fashion, the last persons to leave the ship were Captain Frederick Carl Sherman and his Executive Officer, Commander Morton T. Seligman. The USS Lexington was officially given to the sea at 19:56 and her part in the war was over. She was struck from the US Naval Register on June 24th, 1942. During her World War 2 tenure, the ship earned herself and her crews the American Defense Service Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (with 2 Stars) and the World War 2 Victory Medal. Of the 2,951 crew aboard Lexington at the time of the Battle of Coral Sea, 216 were killed in action.

While technically a victory for Japan, the Battle of Coral Sea proved their first major setback in their conquest of the Pacific and did away with any though of invading the Australian mainland. The Americans lost a major carrier in the process and hard lessons were learned for future combat actions that would play well into total victory for the Allies in the Theater. USS Lexington proved a fighter till the end, a boxer on the ropes not ready to accept defeat. The price for victory proved high on that fateful day.

During her tenure at sea, USS Lexington (CV-2) became affectionately known by the nicknames of the "Gray Lady" and "Lady Lex". As an aside, five days after the report of her sinking was made public, workers at the Fore River Shipbuilding Company in Quincy, Massachusetts petitioned the US Navy Secretary, Frank Knox, to rename the current carrier (USS Cabot) then under construction at the shipyard. The petition was accepted and the Cabot now became USS Lexington (CV-16) in honor of the CV-2.

USS Intrepid

The USS Intrepid survived the perils of World War 2 to fight on through the Vietnam War, eventually to retire as a floating museum.
The USS Intrepid served the United States Navy throughout World War 2 and beyond. The vessel was designed from the new Essex-class of aircraft carriers and was officially added to the navy inventory in 1943. The Intrepid would go on to see extensive combat (known best for its involvement in the Battle of Leyte Gulf) and would become a pivotal piece for American victory in the Pacific Theater. The vessel survived the rigors of war for over 30 years and would eventually be saved as a floating museum - an honorable fate not shared with the other great American carrier - the USS Enterprise.

The Intrepid was a result of the Fiscal Year 1940 program to which a total of five of these Essex-class carriers emerged (beginning with the USS Essex itself). The Intrepid became the third Essex-class ship in the family and was joined by six more of this initial group in 1941. A total of 27 Essex-class carriers would eventually be built with many available for the final death blow on Japan by mid-1945. The Intrepid herself would finish construction in April of 1943 and be pushed off for her sea trials and "shake down" voyage on April 26th. With the pressures of war, the Intrepid would only have to wait a short few months before official commissioning. 

Design followed standard fare, with the island located to the starboard side and the flightdeck to the port running from stern to bow. A total of three wood-planked elevators serviced the flight deck (one port-side deck-edge and two centerline, port and aft of the island superstructure). The port-side elevator was actually pioneered in the Wasp design and was liked so much that senior officers began requesting its presence in all future carrier designs. Two vertically-oriented launch catapults were provided at the bow of the ship (a third - somewhat useless - horizontally-oriented catapult was removed early on). Total aircraft assortment varied between 90 to 100 depending on type. Some 240,000 gallons (US) of aviation fuel was carried along with an extensive amount of ammunition and ordnance for the air group. 

Armament consisted of self-defense weaponry in the form of 8 x 5" cannons (4 in single mountings and 4 in dual-mountings), 8 x 40mm cannons in quadruple mountings and no fewer than 46 20mm cannons in single mountings (later up to 52 such cannons) scattered about the ship. As a whole, the Essex-class of carriers were well-built and well-protected, being able to sustain heavy damage and continually stay in action and have that damage repaired rather quickly in turn. Armor was adequate for the most part, reaching some 4 inches at its thickest. In a testament to its design and abilities, none of the Essex-class carriers were lost in all of World War 2.

The island superstructure sat on the starboard side and directed all all operational functions. The island was defended by eight of the 40mm cannons for anti-aircraft defense. Additionally, the island was home to the search radar and radar directors for the 5-in cannon. Radio communications were handled via two lattice masts joined by wiring connecting the two structures which were fitted off to the right of the forward portion of the flight deck. This position was aptly-protected by a collection of 40mm and 20mm cannon.

Propulsion for the USS Intrepid was handled by 8 x Babcock & Wilcox oil-fired boilers driving 4 x Westinghouse-brand steam turbines which powered 4 x propeller shafts for a total output of 150,000 shaft horsepower. Some 6,161 tons of oil was carried for the engines. A crew of 2,600 enlisted sailors and officers called the USS Intrepid "home".

Throughout early 1944, the Intrepid took part in preparations for the invasion of the Marshall Islands, raiding Japanese-held positions and destroying enemy aircraft and providing air cover for US Marines in the inevitable amphibious landings. Following the invasion, the Intrepid was involved in action against Japanese surface ships and assisted in the sinking of two destroyers along with thousands of tons of enemy shipping. An enemy torpedo eventually struck her in the starboard side which resulted in flooding and alignment issues with her rudder forcing the crew to operate on full port-side power and lesser starboard power. By this time, the improvised method was abandoned as she made her way back to Pearl Harbor and then California for full repairs. By mid-1944, the Intrepid was back in action after two months away.

Next for the vessel was attacks on Palaus and the Philippines during a period encompassing September through November of 1944. Her air wing struck at Japanese targets of opportunity and airfields whenever possible, hoping to cripple any measure of an aerial counter attack and force the occupiers from the collection of islands. In October, Intrepid planes offered up air support for US Marine landings at Leyte eventually becoming embroiled in the "Battle of Leyte Gulf" as no fewer than three Japanese forces converged on in the region. On October 24th, elements of Intrepid and Cabot attacked Center Force, crippled the battleship Yamato and sank the Musashi in an entire day of fighting. The following day, Intrepid aircraft damaged the carriers Zuiho and Zuikaku and sank the Chitose. Between October and November, the Intrepid would fall victim to no fewer than three successful Kamikaze attacks, all causing damage and fires and the loss of dozens of lives yet the vessel still stayed in the game and pushed forward.

In April of 1945, the Intrepid took part in the invasion of Okinawa, flying support for the amphibious landings by US Marines. Another kamikaze attack followed, killing eight more of the Intrepid crew but the stellar work of the damage control crews ensured that the flight deck was ready for friendly aircraft to land in a matter of hours. On August 15th, the USS Intrepid officially received word to cancel any remaining offensive operations - the Second World War was over. By December of 1945, the Intrepid returned to California and eventually settled off of San Francisco.

The USS Intrepid was initially laid down at the end of 1941 and launched by mid 1943. She was officially commissioned in August of that year and served until decommissioning in 1974. During this time, she underwent a classification change from "CV" to "CVA" on October 1st, 1952 and another classification change from "CVA" to "CVS" on March 31st, 1962. Upon becoming the CVA-11, the Intrepid also received work to strengthen her flight deck and catapults and a redesigned island. Upon becoming the CVS-11, she received an angled flight deck and enclosed bow and pushed into service as an anti-submarine carrier. During these Cold War years, her primary role was operations undertaken around Europe with a light attack air group before coming into play as a "special attack carrier" for the Vietnam Conflict. In support of US Navy operations in Vietnam, the USS Intrepid saw action from the South China Sea.

Appropriately, the USS Intrepid carried the nicknames of "Evil I" and "Dry I" from her time spent in dry dock. But because of her major role in World War 2, she also carried the nickname of "The Fighting I". Today, the USS Intrepid serves as a museum ship, harbored as a floating museum in New York City waters. The Intrepid also served in the recovery of the Mercury and Gemini space capsules during the 1960's.

Specifications for the USS Intrepid (CV-11)

Length: 872ft (265.79m)
Beam: 147.6ft (44.99m)
Draught: 34.2ft (10.42m)

Surface Speed: 33kts (38mph)
Range: 17,275miles (27,801km)
Complement: 2,600
Suface Displacement: 27,100tons

Engine(s): 8 x Babcock & Wilcox oil-fired boilers driving 4 x Westinghouse steam turbine engines operating 4 x shafts with total output of 150,000shp.

Air Arm:
Up to 100 aircraft of various makes and types. Example load: 36 x Grumman F4F Wildcat fighters; 37 x Douglas SBD Dauntless dive-bombers; 18 x Grumman TBF Avenger torpedo-bombers.

Armament Suite:
4 x 5" dual-mount anti-aircraft cannons
4 x 5" single-mount anti-aircraft cannons
8 x 40mm Bofors quad-mount anti-aircraft cannons
46 x 20mm Oerlikon single-mount cannons (total of 52 such cannons installed by the end of the war)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

FARA 83 assault rifle by FabricaMilitar de Armas Portatiles Domingo Matheu

FARA 83 assault rifle was developed at Argentinean small arms factory FabricaMilitar de Armas Portatiles Domingo Matheu in1983. About 1200 rifles were produced by 1986, but further manufacture was ceased because of budgetary limitations.

FARA 83 assault rifle is gas operated weapon that uses rotary bolt locking system.Receiver is largely made from steel stampings, with trigger unit hinged to it behind the magazine housing. The gas system was fitted with cut-off valve which permitted launching of rifle grenades using special blanc ammunition.Buttstock was made from polymer and could be folded to the side to safe the space.

Caliber: 5,56x45mm
Action: Gas operated, rotating bolt
Overall length: 1000 mm (745 mm with butt folded)
Barrel length: 452 mm
Weight: 3,95 kg empty
Rate of fire: 750 rounds per minute
Magazine capacity: 30 rounds

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The M56 submachine gun

The M56 submachine gun appears to be a simplified clone of German MP40 submachine gun, adapted for 7,62x25mm pistol ammunition, which, compared to 9x19mm ammunition of MP40 provided longer effective range and better penetration, but slightly less stopping power. The M56 submachine gun had a relatively long service life.

M56 submachine gun, butt opened.

M56 submachine gun is blowback operated, full automatic only weapon that fires from open bolt. The bolt system is of simple design, with exposed, large diameter return spring. The cocking handle is located at the right side of the bolt and doubles as a manual safety - pushing it inwards locks the bolt in open or closed position. The stock is copied from MP40 and folds down and forward to save the length. Sights are of open type, with flip-uprear, marked for 100 and 200 meters range. One unusual feature of M56 is that it has a bayonet lug on the barrel and thus can accept a knife-bayonet.

M56 submachine gun, butt folded.

Caliber 9x19mm Luger / Parabellum
Weight 3,0 kg
Length (stock closed/open) 591 / 870 mm
Barrel length 250 mm
Rate of fire 600 rounds per minute
Magazine capacity 32 rounds
Effective range 200 meters

Friday, June 3, 2011

German Battleships of the 20th Century

SMS Schleswig-Holstein

SMS Schleswig-Holstein served in World War 1 and fired the opening salvos against Poland in World War 2.

The battleship SMS Schleswig-Holstein was named after the northern-most region of Germany. She was the fifth of five vessles built for the Deutschland class of battleships beginning in 1906 under the hammers of Kaiserliche Marine and, as it turned out, they the last of the pre-Dreadnought class of battleships built due to the arrival of HMS Dreadnought.

Representing the final group of Germany’s pre-dreadnought battleships, the Deutschland class was laid down between 1903 and 1904 at the dockyards in Kiel, Szczecin, Wilhelmshaven and Danzig. They were similar to the Braunschweig-class preceding them however Schleswig-Holstein and the other Deutschland’s were mounted with heavier armor. The shipbuilder, Germaniawerft, built both the SMS Deutschland and Schleswig-Holstein. Each ship cost over 24 million marks at the time of construction and took three to four years to be completed.

Schleswig-Holstein was 413 feet (126 meters) long at the waterline, and 419 feet (127.6 meters) overall. At her beam she was 73 feet (22.2 meters) and had a draft of 25 feet (7.7 meters), displacing 14,218 tons in full. She was powered by 3-shaft triple expansion engines, which produced 19,330 ihp, and a top speed of 17 knots (31 km/h). The triple expansion engines were powered by eight Marine type boilers and six cylinder boilers. After 1915, oil-firing capability was added to supplement the coal-fired boilers. The ship had a single rudder and three screws. The two outer propellers were three bladed, and 4.8 m (5.24 yd) in diameter. The center screw was four bladed and 4.5 m (4.92 yd) in diameter. She was fitted with two funnels.

Schleswig-Holstein's main armament consisted of 4 x 11-inch (28 cm) guns in twin turrets - one fore and one aft of the superstructure. Her secondary battery was comprised of 14 x 6.7-inch (17-cm) guns and 22 x 3.4-inch (8.6-cm) guns, all casemated along the length of the ship and concentrated amidships. The Deutschland class also mounted six 17.7-inch (45-cm) torpedo tubes. Schleswig-Holstein’s armored belt was 9 inches (23-cm) thick at its maximum center points and then tapered to 4 inches (10-cm) thick in less critical areas, most notably the bow and stern. The turrets had 11 inches (28 cm) of armor protection - a full inch thicker than the preceding class. The decks had 3 inches (7.6 cm) of armor plate to stop plunging fire.

SMS Schleswig-Holstein was present at the Battle of Jutland in World War I along with all of her sister ships. The SMS Pommern was hit at about 02:00 on June 1st, 1916, by a torpedo fired from the British destroyer HMS Faulknor. The torpedo hit and caused an explosion in one of the magazines and the ship quickly sank with the loss of the entire 839-men crew. SMS Schleswig-Holstein was hit by one shell during the battle and caused little damage. After the war, Germany was allowed to keep three of the remaining four battleships as part of the Treaty of Versailles. SMS Schlesien, SMS Schleswig-Holstein and the SMS Hannover were the chosen vessels while SMS Deutschland was scrapped in 1922. Schleswig-Holstein was modernized in the 1920s and served as flagship of the German Navy from 1926 to 1935.

By 1939 she and her sisters were considered obsolete but were powerful enough so that she could be used as a gun platform for land bombardments. With Captain Gustav Kleikamp in command of SMS Schleswig Holstein, she and her sister ship, SMS Schlesien, were on a planned visit to Poland. This subterfuge was meant to honour the sailors killed on the German cruiser Magdeburg in World War 1 and were buried in Danzig in 1914. The Magdeburg had run aground near the Odensholm lighthouse in the Baltic Sea. Efforts to refloat her failed and the Russian cruisers Bogatyr and Pallada appeared and destroyed her and most of her crew.

Schleswig Holstein and her small flotilla had anchored in Danzig harbour at the mouth of the River Vistula. At 4.30am on September 1st, 1939, she weighed anchor and moved down the canal, taking up a position opposite the Polish fort Westerplatte. Schlesien and the gun boats stayed and protected the mouth of the harbor. This had been the plan of the German High Command; Schleswig Holstein had her 11-inch guns at point blank range, while Captain Kleikamp, at 4.47am, gave the order to open fire on the Westerplatte in the name of Adolf Hitler. Germanys first shot fired by the SMS Schleswig Holstein of World War 2 in Europe was exactly 20 years, 9 months, 19 days and 18 hours after the last shot was fired in World War 1. World War II in Europe had begun.

The bombardment of the fort was joined by Stuka dive bombers of the German Luftwaffe and the few Polish garrison defenders were additionally attacked by larger numbers of German ground troops. The battle lasted for seven days before the Polish commander surrendered though the fort was never overrun by the German troops. In the first few weeks of the war, the Schleswig-Holstein and the Schlesien bombarded other Polish positions in Gdynia, Kepa Oksywska, and the Hel Peninsula.

The remaining Deutschland class battleships were returned to training duty following the occupation of Norway in 1940. Schleswig-Holstein became an anti-aircraft ship in 1944 at Gdynia to protect the port. The she berthed at Gdynia till the end of the war. Being a stationary target she was attacked by the RAF on December 18th, 1944, killing twenty eight of her crew members. The RAF attacked again and scored many bomb hits, leaving her burning and finally sinking in 39 feet of water near the port on March 21st, 1945. After World War 2, she was raised by the Soviet Union and towed to the Russian port of Tallinn where she was renamed Borodino. The Russian navy scuttled Borodino in shallow water near Osmussaar island in the Baltic Sea sometime in 1948 and was used as a target ship until the 1964. The remains of the ship have been protected by the Estonian National Heritage Board as a historic shipwreck since 2006.

The battleship Schleswig Holstein served Germany in both world wars and was the instrument used to begin the Second World War. A conflict, by some reports, that claimed the lives of 60 million people. It is doubtful that this number reflects all the peoples in all the far corners of the world where records were at best dubious. Nevertheless, the SMS Schleswig-Holstein earned her legacy - perhaps not as the operating nation first intended. 

KMS Admiral Scheer

The KMS Admiral Scheer proved a headache to Allied commerce shipping during World War 2.

Admiral Scheer was the second of the three Deutschland class heavy cruisers ordered and funded by the Reichsmarine of the Weimar Republic in 1926. This class of ships were often referred to as "pocket battleship" - vessels smaller than a conventional battleship though bigger than any ocean-going cruiser at the time. Serving with the Kriegsmarine (German Navy) during World War 2, the Admiral Scheer was aptly named after German Admiral Reinhard Scheer who commanded the Kaiserliche Marine High Seas Fleet at the Battle of Jutland, the largest naval battle of World War 1. Scheer survived the war and died in 1928. Five years later, his namesake was launched and christened by Scheer's daughter, Marianne.

During the inter-war years (the period between World War 1 and World War 2) Germany made a habit of side-stepping international treaty rules limiting the number and tonnage of warships allowed to the Kriegsmarine (based on the post-World War I Treaty of Versailles. As such, the Reichsmarine classified the Scheer as a smaller armored ship, or "Panzerschiff". This subterfuge of the class placed him in the eyes of the world as complying with the treaty rules for, at least on paper, he was a small warship. The heavy cruiser was one of the few ships in naval history that has often been referred to as male by its crew and referred to as “he” instead of the usual feminine gender use of “her” utilized in most navies of the world, even today.

The Scheer's first mission began in July 1936 when he was sent to Spain to evacuate German civilians caught up in the Spanish Civil War. The vessel was also called on to spy on Soviet ships carrying supplies to the Communist Republicans while protecting ships delivering German weapons to Franco’s Nationalist Fascist Army. On May 31st,1937 he and several German planes bombarded the Republican town of Almería, Spain, in response to a previous air attack on the sister ship KMS Deutschland. The British papers condemned it as a criminal act and, upon further review, only a few deaths were attributed to the limited shelling. By the end of June 1938 the Scheer had completed a total of eight deployments to Spain in support of the Fascist Spanish government. He returned to Germany for a refit, having his superstructure lowered for a reduced profile and radar image. After the refit, the Kriegsmarine reclassified him as a heavy cruiser for shore bombardment and supply delivery to Spain was not what Hitler had intended for his pocket battleships - commerce raiding of convoys was more the forte of this class
A convoy was a group of ships traveling together for mutual support and protection - this tactic was utilized before and during the Second World War. The British adopted a convoy system, initially voluntary and later compulsory for all merchant ships, when World War 2 was declared. The first convoys emerged from Canadian ports and then soon after from American ports. A Commodore with naval experience was assigned to oversee the assignment of these ships and their cargos. He would develop a master plan for each ship and they would be assigned to a particular spot in the convoy "box". The box required each ship to maintain a certain speed and keep an assigned distance from the ship along her bow and stern and to her on port and star board sides. No doubt this required a lot of discipline for each ship and crew, especially when considering operations at night, often running in complete darkness so as not to provide easy prey to enemy submarines.

Convoy HX-84 was assigned 38 merchant ships with cargos to be shipped from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada sailing to Liverpool, England under the command of Commodore H.B. Maltby. The vital cargos being carried by the ships in the convoy ranged from general merchandise, steel, military trucks and maize. The convoy sailed out on October 28th, 1940 taking a secret route only known to the captains at the time of sailing. Due to the lack of warships early in the war, the convoy’s security was handled in three legs; first the local leg escort from Halifax was composed of the Canadian destroyers Columbia and St. Francis. The most dangerous center ocean leg was handled by the HMS Jervis Bay and the local escort close to English shores from Liverpool were the destroyers HMS Hesperus and three accompanying Corvettes. The ocean leg was assigned to a converted armed merchant ship, formally the Aberdeen & Commonwealth liner, Jervis Bay. The Jervis Bay, built originally as a passenger ship, was taken over by the Admiralty in August of 1939. She was fitted out with 7 x 6-inch guns of World War 1 vintage with each gun attaining a maximum range of 15,000 yards (or 8.5 miles) at 28-degree maximum elevation. Painted grey for camouflage and manned by 255 crew men, she proudly hoisted the White Ensign of an ocean escort for Atlantic convoys.

The Admiral Scheer slipped quietly into the Atlantic on October 14th, 1940, searching for a convoy target. Its two Arado seaplanes were launched daily looking over the horizon for targets or enemy warships to contend with. On November 5th, 1940 one of the pilots spotted a convoy and, not seeing any warships, felt it was an unescorted target and promptly radioed the Scheer with the ship's location.

The Scheer proceeded towards the position as radioed by the seaplane. Sure enough, as the Scheer approached the target location, only a single ship was seen. Captain Kranckes problem was that if he steamed around or attacked the small freighter she could radio the speed and heading of the Scheer and convoy HX.84 could scatter. Krancke decided to approach the vessel at flank speed and ordered the target vessel to stop and not use her radio. The vessel turned out to be the banana boat SS Mopan of 7,909 tons. The Mopan's skipper decided to obey the German order primarily since they themselves had no life boats to use and it was November in the chilly Atlantic. Scheer stopped and took on the 76 crew members as prisoners before destroying the Mopan, this becoming the Scheer’s first kill. The decision on the part of the Mopan took an approximately an hour, giving the rest of the convoy more time to react and less daylight for the Scheer to operate in. With daylight running out, Captain Kranckes ordered full speed ahead.

Scheer's problem now was that it was late afternoon and it would be ever more difficult to find additional targets after dark. Captain Fegen of the Jervis Bay also knew the convoy needed time to escape and made the decision to attack the Scheer directly. Jervis Bay dropped smoke floats as she closed the range between her and the pocket battleship. Jervis fired but all her initial volley shots fell short and soon the 11 inch shells from Scheer started to find the Jarvis Bay. Without deck armor, casualties proved heavy. Captain Fegen was on the bridge when it was hit and lost an arm in the ensuing actions. He continued to give orders, trying to close the range, but was subsequently killed when another shell hit the bridge. The destruction of the bridge and its crew included the lost of gunnery control. In this 24 minute battle at sea, most of the Jarvis Bay officers were killed and, with the ship ablaze stem to stern, the order was given to abandon. 198 men were lost in this one-sided battle. The Swedish freighter Stureholm found and saved the remaining 65 crewmen. Captain Fegen was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for Valor.

Scheer steamed past the Jervis Bay, still looking for the convoy. SS Kenbane Head of 5,225 tons was sunk with 24 hands being lost. SS Beaverford of 10,042 tons attempted to defend the convoy with minimal armament on board. The battle lasted for some time with Scheer firing on multiple targets. However, Beaverford went down with all 77 hands aboard. Scheer started using star shells to locate other ships in the dark and found the SS Maiden of 7,908 tons. She was sunk with all 91 hands aboard. Soon after, the SS Trewellard of 5,201 tons came into range and was sunk with one 11-inch shell, taking 16 merchant seamen with her to the bottom. In the distance Scheer spotted the SS Fresno City of 6,500 tons with a cargo of maise. Though this vessel almost slipped away, she was downed by the Scheer with all hands. Captain Kranckes was becoming concerned that the British screen from England could appear at any moment in the darkness. The Royal Navy had sent out several ships to trap the Admiral Scheer, but before they arrived, the Scheer slipped away to rendezvous with his oiler Nordmark. During the next two months, he found and sunk four more ships, capturing supplies, three ships and transferring the prisoners to the oiler Nordmark . Making a foray into the Indian Ocean in February of 1941, he sunk two more ships. Before they were sunk, however, a distress signal was sent out and picked up by British cruisers. The next day, Scheer sank a coal ship and followed up with an escaped back into the Atlantic. Captain Krancke sailed northwards and reached Kiel on April 1, 1941 - sailing over 46,000 nautical miles (85,000 km) at voyage's end.

Admiral Scheer stayed in the port of Kiel until early July 1942, trying to find and sink Arctic Convoy PQ-17. Thirty-six merchant ships left Reykjavik, Iceland and two made it thru with 34 ships sunk by German U-boats and aircraft. None were sunk by the Scheer, however, so in August 1942 he sailed into the Arctic Ocean to hunt convoys and establish a German presence in the USSR's Arctic region. This operation in the arctic was known as "Unternehmen Wunderland" in German and proved to be a large sortie.

In the ensuing action, Scheer damaged two Soviet patrol boats, bombarded and destroyed an Soviet meteorological station and sank an armed ice breaker Aleksandr Sibiryakov. Before the icebreaker sank, the crew sent a signal to the next station that the Scheer was heading to destroy - the Novy Dikson. Arriving at the harbor, he moved in to shell the ships and shore installations. The garrison there used a field howitzer against him, causing minor damage. He, in turn, badly damaged the two ships in the harbor and shelled the troops at the garrison, then returning to Narvik without finding any allied convoys in the Kara Sea.

Hitler's anger at the failings of the Kriegsmarine and his pocket battle ships to do any reasonable damage against the Allied convoys supplying the Soviet Union culminated. Its commander-in-chief, Admiral Raeder, was replaced by Admiral Donitz and the German surface fleet stayed in port from then on.

In 1944, Admiral Scheer provided artillery support for retreating German army units on the Sorve Peninsula. In January and February of 1945, he was again engaged in coastal bombardment operations, but with constant firing his gun barrels were worn out by March and he returned to Kiel. On the night of April 9th, 1945, a 300-strong RAF bombing raid on the dockyard critically struck the Scheer and he capsized while still tied up at the dock. Only 32 sailors were killed with most of the crew on shore leave.

In all of World War 2, the Admiral Scheer under Captain Theodor Krancke was by far the most successful capital ship commerce raider of the conflict, particularly in his foray into the Indian Ocean. After the war, his hull was scrapped and the dock was filled in to make a parking lot.

Ships sunk and captured by the KMS Scheer.

5 November 1940 - SS Mopan, British, 5,389tons - SUNK
5 November 1940 - HMS Jervis Bay, British, 14,164tons - SUNK IN COMBAT
5 November 1940 - SS Maidan, British, 7,908tons - SUNK
5 November 1940 - SS Trewellard, British, 5,201tons - SUNK
5 November 1940 - SS Kenbane Head, British, 5,225tons - SUNK
5 November 1940 - SS Beaverford, British, 10,142tons - SUNK
5 November 1940 - SS Fresno City, British, 4,995tons - SUNK
24 November 1940 - SS Port Hobart, British, 7,448tons - SUNK
1 December 1940 - SS Tribesman, British, 6,242tons - SUNK
17 December 1940 - SS Duquesa, British, 8,652tons - CAPTURED
17 January 1941 - SS Sandefjord, Norwegian, 8,083tons - CAPTURED
20 January 1941 - SS Barneveld, Dutch, 5,597tons - SUNK
20 January 1941 - SS Stanpark, British, 5,103tons - SUNK
20 February 1941 - SS British Advocate, British, 6,994tons - CAPTURED
20 February 1941 - SS Grigorios C., Greek, 2,546tons - SUNK
21 February 1941 - SS Canadian Cruiser, British, 6,992tons - SUNK
22 February 1941 - SS Rantau Pandjang, Dutch, 2,542tons - SUNK
25 August 1942 - SS Aleksandr Sibiryakov, Soviet, 1,384tons - SUNK IN COMBAT

KMS Tirpitz

The German KMS Tirpitz was the sister-ship to the mythical KMS Bismarck battleship of World War 2.

By 1935, Germany - now under the firm control of Adolph Hitler - backed out of the Treaty of Versailles. The treaty was put in place following the cessation of hostilities in World War 1, to which Germany was saddled with much of the blame for, and limited much of the war-making capability of the once-proud global power. Like all other facets of the German military leading up to World War2, the Kriegsmarine (German Navy) was ramping up efforts to go to war and had been planning two 35,000-ton battleships (or "Schlachtschiff") as the (F) "Bismarck" and (G) "Tirpitz". The Tirpitz became the second ship of the two-strong Bismarck-class and was named after Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz - the father of the German Grand Fleet of World War 1.

The KMS Tirpitz Joins the KMS Bismarck
When completed, Tirpitz was the largest and final battleship to be built by the Germans - even longer and heavier than the well-known KMS Bismarck. Discussions surrounding her design included an increase to overall displacement to 37,200 tons. However, Admiral Erich Johann Albert Raeder (1876-1960) instructed the designers not to exceed the original 35,000-ton design as the hull size needed to conform to existing locks as well as comply with the available harbor depths at the German dock facilities. The Kriegsmarine Planning Office felt the ship's design could not be reduced below a 37,200 ton range due to the normal construction methods that always seemed to increase the weight of any ship being built. Reluctantly, Raeder agreed to the extra tonnage but this being allocated to weapons. Meanwhile, the Construction Office was investigating four different main propulsion arrangements to power the Tirpitz. They were as follows: 1) High pressure steam geared turbines with 12 x boilers in 6 x boiler rooms forward of the turbine rooms, 2) Same as (1) but with all 12 x boilers in 3 x boiler rooms forward of the turbine rooms, 3) Same as (2) but with one boiler between the forward turbine rooms and 4) a Turbo-electric drive.

The Construction Office decided that (2) was the best propulsion arrangement for the new vessel. There were some in the ranks that wanted (4) but the excessive weight of the turbo drive was a major concern to the design. A conference was held on June 6th, 1935 to review the ships secondary armament and, once again, the design team brought up the main propulsion discussion. New encouraging results concerning the turbo-electric drive were brought to Admiral Raeder’s attention. The machinery, being built by Lloyd Liner Scharnhorst, had reopened the consideration of this propulsion method even though the turbo drive weighed 600-tons more than the conventional geared turbines to be used. The German Navy Construction Office still had reservations about the turbo-electric drive weight and considered housing the secondary guns in casements instead of turrets to save on tonnage. Raeder disagreed that protection should be sacrificed around the secondary guns and instructed the Planning Office to look elsewhere and save the required weight before the intriguing turbo-electric drive would be considered.

The Construction Office provided Raeder with a new plan in August of 1935 designated as "A13". The report outlined improvements and included a sketch of a three-shaft, turbo-electric drive. Raeder reviewed the plan and agreed to allow the changes to be made to his Tirpitz. This decision created a lot of planning concerns related to armor thickness, the reduction of the citadel length and even the positioning of living spaces within the hull. By June of 1936, difficulties in the weight reduction phase forced the Planning Department into the decision that the turbo-electric drive installation should be cancelled and geared turbines be adopted for Germany's battleship instead.

Of course Raeder felt much time had been lost by the Planning Department’s indecision to this point and now the construction drawings would have to be redone. With conventional turbines being adopted, Raeder took the opportunity to reverse the initial reduction of the main armor belt from 300mm back up to 320mm thickness. Additional savings in weight changes were made using welded armor decking instead of rivets and this allowed for armor increases above the main magazines - increasing from 95mm to 100mm - and slopped areas from 110mm to 120mm. By 1936, armor thickness could not be changed because rolled armor construction had begun on the ship. The belt was 145mm (5.709 in) to a maximum of 320mm (12.598 in). The decks ranged from 50mm (1.569 in) to 120mm (4,724 in) and Bulk heads were a consistent 220mm (8.661 in). The anti-aircraft barbettes - a compilation of 16 x 30mm AA guns, 16 x 37mm AA guns, 92 x 20mm AA guns - were protected by 342mm (13.465-inches). All secondary 12 x 5.9 inch guns had 130mm (5.709 in) and the main 8 x 15 inch gun turrets were given 360mm (14.173 in) armor. After the superstructure and armaments were added, Tirpitz would displace 53,500-tons loaded and had an overall running length of 832 feet. Her maximum speed was 30.8 knots and she had a range of 8,870 nautical miles at 19 knots.

Installed were two quadruple banks of 21-inch torpedo tubes on the main deck just aft of the aircraft launch catapults. The ship was fitted for up to six floatplane aircraft used for spotting "over-the-horizon" targets of opportunity and enemy scouts. These aircraft were launched via 1 x fixed, double-ended catapults fitted amidships, the aircraft being recovered by crane after landing alongside the vessel by their integral floats. Abreast of the funnel were two single hangers while under the mainmast was a larger hanger. The ship could support four to six Arado Ar 196 floatplane aircraft as needed.

The finalized main steam plant was comprised of 12 x 2 pairs of boilers in six boiler rooms fitted fore and aft. The boilers were built by Blohm & Voss at Deschimag for Tirpitz (Blohm und Voss would also become known throughout the war for their many large flying boat designs). The geared turbine installation was a three-shaft layout with the center turbine room furthest aft and the side turbines in separate compartments aft of the boiler rooms. Normal full power rating was 265rpm per shaft providing 38,300 shaft horsepower with 46,000 shaft horsepower at maximum power. Electric power was supplied by four main generator rooms on the lower platform deck. Number 1 was starboard and Number 2 was on the port side with each housing four generator sets of 500kW. Number 3 and 4 generator spaces were similarly arraigned with three 690kW turbo generators each. Oil bunkerage capacity for Tirpitz was 8,297 tons but only 7,780 tons were able to be pumped. Endurance figures were estimated at 8,600nm @15kts, 8,150nm @ 21kts, and 3,750nm @ 30kts. However, wartime figures could not be estimated due to unknown - and ever changing - factors.

The 380mm SKC/34 main guns were a new design of the Krupp Company, weighing 112kg, and fired an 800kg projectile. The Tirpitz carried 130 projectiles per gun. Munitions carried onboard for the other guns varied. The design plan called for 12 x 105 rounds for the 150mm, 16 x 400 rounds for the 37mm cannons and 16 x 2,000 rounds for the 37mm.

The fire control system had three main gunnery control positions. The forward position occupied half of the conning tower on the navigation bridge. Another was on top of the foremast tower, and the third was located aft of the superstructure deck. The forward position was equipped with a 7m base stereoscopic range finder and the others with 10m pattern units. For control of night actions, two positions - one forward and one aft - were equipped with two Zeilsaule C38’s and a star shell director. Two main gyro rooms provided stable data to the control stations. Two 3m base night rangefinding systems were fitted in the "wings" of the Admiral‘s bridge. Seven 150cm Siemens searchlights were also fitted, one on the forward face of the conning tower, four on the funnel platform and two abreast of Flack Tower C.

Tirpitz is Launched
Tirpitz was launched on April 1st, 1939 with the intention that she would be deployed as a commerce raider against Allied merchant shipping in the North Atlantic. Hitler had been an infantryman during World War 1 and thusly had no prior direct naval experience on which to go by. Hitler did listen to his Admirals and Generals but made most of the war planning decisions under his own instincts - a fatal flaw to be sure.

Capital ships such as the Tirpitz represented the naval power of the day and German battleships were necessary to counter the British Royal Navy. With the fabled KMS Bismarck being sunk in May of 1941, Hitler lost complete confidence in the commerce raider mission plan. Tirpitz was ready to be deployed and concern about the mission was evident with her sea trials being held in the protected waters of the Baltic Sea. German spies learned that the British Admiralty had sent orders that an attack on Tirpitz would need at least two King George V-type battleships and an aircraft carrier. It was obvious that the British were concerned about the threat that Tirpitz represented and were willing to commit several major naval assets to counter her and her escorts.

In September of 1941, Tirpitz was serving as the flagship of the Baltic Fleet supported by the heavy cruiser KMS Admiral Scheer and the light cruisers KMS Koln, KMS Nuremberg, KMS Emden and KMS Leipzig. The fleet was stationed off Aaland Island to counter sorties from the Soviet fleet based at Leningrad. Hitler felt that when the invasion of Europe happened it would come through Norway instead of the costal fortifications of France. The decision was made to use Tirpitz as a threat to Atlantic and Arctic convoys and to provide protection against the expected invasion. On the night of January 14th, 1942, Tirpitz left Wilhelmshaven for Trondheim escorted by destroyers KMS Richard Beitzen, KMS Paul Jacobi, KMS Bruno Heinemann and KMS Z-29. The sortie was via the Kiel Canal so the Swedish Coast Guard would not spot the flotilla slipping out.

The British Royal Navy was soon alerted and understood the danger of the Tirpitz breakout and, without the capital ships in the area, launched air sorties on January 30th, 194,1from northern Scotland with nine Handley Page Halifax bombers from 76th Squadron and seven Short Stirlings of the 15th Squadron. The sorties failed to locate the target. Hitler sent Vice Admiral Otto Ciliax to take command of the German naval force as Commander-in-Chief of battleships. German submarines spotted the British convoy PQ-12 sailing to Russia with convoy PQ-8 sailing back from Murmansk. PQ-12 held a total of 31 ships massing near Iceland - sailing to Russia in the Arctic to deliver critical Lend-Lease supplies. Admiral Ciliax receiving the convoy report and subsequently prepared "Operation Sportpalast". Tirpitz and the destroyers Z-25, Hermann Schoemann and Paul Jacobi left Faettenfjord, Trondeim under the command of Ciliax on March 3rd, 1942.

A British submarine spotted the enemy formation and informed the Home Fleet who, in turn, sent the battleships HMS King George V and HMS Duke of York along with the battlecruiser HMS Renown, the aircraft carrier HMS Victorious, a heavy cruiser and twelve destroyers to counter Tirpitz. Bad weather saved the convoys from being spotted by the Germans and saved the German force from the superior British fleet en route. Finding themselves only miles apart on March 9th the weather had cleared just enough to allow the Victorious to launch twelve torpedo-laden Albacore aircraft against the German ships. The aircraft made torpedo attacks but luck - and Tirpitz’s inherent speed - allowed her to dodge all the torpedoes while shooting down two of the attacking aircraft on her return to Trondeim.

New Strategy for the Tirpitz
Upon receiving the after-action report, Raeder reported to Hitler with the results of Operation Sportpalast with only one conclusion being clear - Tirpitz was vulnerable to attack. Hitler was gun shy after having lost the Bismarck and ordered Admiral Raeder to issue orders to Ciliax that Tirpitz would only attack convoys if the battleship had Luftwaffe air support and knowledge of the opposing naval forces. Hitler’s confining order effectively removed Tirpitz as a major threat to allied shipping in the Atlantic and elsewhere though the order was unknown to the British Home Fleet. Keeping Tirpitz out of the Atlantic meant she did not need as much fuel so on March 10th Tirpitz transferred 1,722 tons of fuel oil to destroyers KMS Schoemann, KMS Friedrich Ihn and KMS Z-25 along with torpedo boats T-5 and T-12.

The Tirpitz was sent to northern Norwegian waters using the fjords, mostly at Kåfjord, a branch of the Altafjord, as a base. She acted mainly a threat that tied up Royal Navy and US Navy resources. On June 27, 1942, word of convoy PQ-17 was received by German intelligence and an attack plan was formulated to counter the flotilla Tirpitz and nine destroyers. KMS Admiral Hipper, KMS Admiral Scheer and KMS Lützow assembled at Altenfjord when the convoy was detected. On July 1st, Tirpitz and the escorts left Trondheim and, soon after, a British submarine observed the sortie and notified the British Admiralty. So concerned about Tirpitz upon receiving the information that a decision was made to scatter the convoy, leaving the merchant ships without protection. When PQ-17 scattered, German submarines were able to sink 24 ships over the next 10 days. On July 5th Tirpitz made a brief sortie and, after being sighted, was ordered back to port without firing a shot. However, the fear of Tirpitz lead to the convoy being destroyed by other elements. From July 8th to September 1943 Tirpitz was dry-docked for repairs at Trondheim Narvik, Norway. After repairs, German troops landed on the Spitsbergen islands in September 1943. Tirpitz, Scharnhorst, and nine destroyers were assigned to support the landing as offshore bombardment. This became the first and only operation in which Tirpitz fired her guns on enemy targets.

Later that month, British X-class midget submarines attacked Tirpitz as part of "Operation Source". The British started the attack with six X-craft but, during the 1,000 mile tow from England, three craft were lost due to mechanical reasons - these being X-8, X-9, and X-10. The remaining three craft - X-5, X-6 and X-7 - went through minefields and, under darkness, through enemy lines. Their mission resulted in the placing of 4 x 2 ton amatol charges under the hull of Tirpitz. The X-craft then quietly moved away and detonated the charges. The force of the blast lifted Tirpitz some six feet. The attack resulted in some damage to the Tirpitz but, as a ruse, the ship was quietly maintained as had nothing happened for six months while she was being repaired. The British were fooled by the non-action on the part of the Germans and felt Tirpitz was still seaworthy and a threat to Atlantic operations. Thusly, they continued to commit massive resources to her containment.

More Attacks
The Royal Navy then launched another attack on Tirpitz in April 1944, this with a large fleet of surface ships accompanied by aircraft. Seven aircraft carriers, two battleships, two cruisers, and sixteen destroyers took part. This was to be an air attack unless Tirpitz decided to break out - only then would the British battleships and cruisers be called into play. Tirpitz was attack by the British fleet’s air arm using armor-piercing bombs and anti-submarine bombs that could detonate underwater, causing shock damage to the hull. Royal Navy aircraft strafed her decks and lost three planes while the Tirpitz lost 122 of her crew with another 300 wounded. The damage was such that she was out of commission for two months. From April through July, additional air attacks were planned but ultimately cancelled due to adverse weather. "Operation Mascot" then failed as Tirpitz had warning and produced a smoke screen, obscuring her from the attacking British warplanes.

In August 1944, Tirpitz left the protection of the fiord for sea trials which resulted in additional enemy air attacks but these having no success. Tirpitz underwent sea trials in early August 1944. Three weeks later, the Fleet Air Arm launched operations Goodwill I, II, and III with little success, having just one 500lb bomb land on the Tirpitz. However, during the attack, the escort carrier HMS Nabob was torpedoed adding to the Royal Navy’s fear of the Tirpitz. Attacks by the British 617th and 9th Squadrons on September 15, 1944 dropped five-ton "Tallboy" bombs and underwater mine bombs on Tirpitz, these hitting her bow and making the battleship unseaworthy. The German High Command knew they could not get her back to drydock for repair. If the Royal Navy had known the extent of the damage, they could have left her to sit out the rest of the war but continued assets were used to counter the German "tiger" in the fiord. She was towed to Tromso to be used as a floating gun platform to counter Hitler’s expected Invasion of Norway by the Allies. However, Allied air forces stationed in Scotland could now reach her.

End of the KMS Tirpitz
"Operation Catechism" was enacted on November 12th, 1944, by 9th Squadron and 617th Squadron flying Avro Lancaster heavy bombers loaded with "Tallboy" bombs. Coming in from the east, the ship was struck by three Tallboys - two of which pierced the ship's armor and blew a 200-foot (61 m) hole in her port side. Fires set off a magazine used for C turret, blowing it completely off the ship. Within eleven minutes after the first hit, Tirpitz capsized with over 1,000 men below her decks. After the attack, access holes were cut in the exposed hull allowing 82 men from below decks to be saved. Tirpitz sank with 971 of her crew aboard.

The destruction of Tirpitz removed a major surface threat for the Allies, freeing many of their all-important capital ships used to counter her, relocating them to other fleet operations in the Indian Ocean and the Far East. After the war, the ship was cut up and sold as scrap except for a sizeable portion of her bow which remains today. The Norwegians saved her electrical generators and used them to produce power for a local fishing company. The Tallboy bombs that landed onshore produced artificial lakes that were subsequently used by fisherman. Armor plating from Tirpitz is still being utilized by the Norwegian Road Authority for temporary road work.

The Norwegians named her the "Lonely Queen of the North" ("Den ensomme Nordens Dronning") and Winston Churchill often referred to the Tirpitz as "The Beast".

KMS Admiral Graf Spee

The Admiral Graf Spee was scuttled off the coast of Montevideo in the 1939 Battle of the River Plate.

The Admiral Graf Spee was a pre-war vessel of the Deutschland-class of German ships. Designed and built during a time when Germany somewhat still heeded the limitations of the Treaty of Versailles, a treaty stating that no signing nation could produce a warship with a displacement exceeding 10,000 tons, the Admiral Graf Spee was a product of both rule-bending and outright disregard. The Deutschland-class was committed to see by the KMS Deutschland, the first ship in the class. This vessel was followed by the Admiral Scheer and, finally, the Admiral Graf Spee - a vessel named after World War 1 German Admiral Maximilian von Spee, killed in combat during the conflict.

Though all three ships would easily exceed the allowed tonnage of 10,000 tons (the Graf Spee topped 16,000 at construction's end) they were never truly of battleship caliber vessels. Selected machinery came in the shape of eight MAN-brand diesel engines producing 56,000 shaft horsepower to two shafts. This came at the benefit of speed and light weight allowing for attention to be paid to the overall protection of the vessel through armor and, consequently, the armament. Construction consisted of electric welding which further saved weight as opposed to utilizing riveting, a traditional ship-building method.

What the German designers had in fact produced was more of a "tweener" design - neither battleship nor true cruiser. In the end, the vessel sported battleship-like armament and armor though it was faster than most and took on the capabilities of a true cruiser. To this end, the design became known to the Allies as a "pocket battleship" and the name took for the type since. The Graf Spee was also further set apart from her contemporaries in that the type took on an early form of shipborne radar known as Seetakt.

The Graf Spee was armed with 6 x 11" main guns mounted in two turrets - three guns to a turret - with one system forward and one held aft. This was augmented by the addition of 8 x 5.9" guns and further strengthened by 6 x 105mm, 8 x 37mm and 10 x 20mm cannons throughout. Additionally, the vessel was given true ship-killing capabilities in the form of 8 x 533mm torpedo tubes. Two Arado Ar 196 floatplane aircraft were also carried aboard and launched from a catapult held amidships behind the bridge superstructure. The type's profile was characterized by its single funnel midship and tall ranging mast. A crew of 1,150 officers and sailors operated the vessel, which could achieve a top speed in excess of 28 knots.

The Graf Spee is best known for her ultimate action at the Battle of River Plate in the South Atlantic, taking on British Royal Navy ships. Shells were exchanged in anger between the two sides with the Graf Spee more or less earning the respect. The HMS Exeter was turned from the battle with successive hits from the Graf Spee. Her main guns were truly a match for the lighter armored British vessels but she was not invincible as enough damage was incurred (some reports state up to 60 direct hits on her surface) to make the German cruiser find a safe port for repair.

Upon leaving port on December 17th, 1939, British ships ripped into her once more. The damaged sustained from the earlier fighting was weighing heavily on the vessel, now taking on more punishment. The decision was made to scuttle the vessel. Her crew were taken prisoner but her captain (Langsdorff) elected to kill himself in macabre honorary fashion some three days after the Graf Spee's last voyage.

The Admiral Graf Spee was laid down in 1932 and launched in 1934. She was officially commissioned in 1936. All of the Deutschland-class ships were eventually lost to action in World War 2. The original Deutschland was renamed to the Lutzow.

KMS Bismarck

When commissioned in 1940, the battleship Bismarck was the largest ship of her type in the world.

 The KMS Bismarck is undoubtedly one of the most famous sea-going vessels of the 20th Century. The Germany super battleship was single-handedly responsible for tying a good portion of the British Royal Navy who dedicated themselves and their available resources to the hunting down and sinking of Hitler's most powerful symbol of supremacy. Packed with an astounding array of guns and armored to the core, the Bismarck took a good licking before succumbing to her damages in 1941. The design was in some ways a throw-back to the designs of the First World War and were highly based on the "pocket battleship" design lessons taken from that conflict.

The KMS Bismarck - a product of Blohm & Voss in Hamburg, Germany - was a giant leap forward in the rebuilding of the Germany Navy following the tight restrictions set forth on military build up following the First World War (of which Germany was the loser). With Adolph Hitler's finagling of the Versailles Treaty, the KMS Bismarck was born (along with her sister ship, the KMS Tirpitz) as a 50,000 ton monster - well above the treaty's limitations. Though strangely in tune with the preceding war's design methodology, no expense was spared in making this class a truly potent force on the high seas.

Of particular note were her massive batteries of 15" guns of which eight were positioned in four heavily armored turrets - two guns to a turret. Two turret emplacements were positioned forward while the remaining two were held aft. Assisting the main guns were a collection of 12 x 5.9" cannons positioned around the midship superstructure, three turrets per side with two guns each. The guns were aptly named Anton, Bruno, Caesar and Dora from front to rear. 105mm and 37mm cannons complimented the main gun array and anti-aircraft defense was augmented by a plethora of 20mm quadruple and single-mounted cannons. The midship section was of a wide berth area containing the superstructure, masts, communications equipment, life boats and a two-way catapult. The Bismarck also carried up to four Arado-type Ar 196 floatplanes for reconnaissance and patrol duties though a full load of six aircraft could be carried if need be.

Armor was the key to the Bismarck's survival. Such attention was dedicated to the component that nearly half of the vessels overall weight constituted protection of the vital areas from shelling, bombing and torpedo hits. Vast amounts of armor were devoted to the belt and decks along with the hull and the aforementioned turret assemblies. The armor was a step behind her contemporaries serving in the American and British navies but was formidable by sheer thickness.

Power for the massive ship was derived from Blohm & Voss 3-shaft geared steam turbines generating an impressive 138,000 to 150,000 shaft horsepower. The Bismarck had a listed top speed of 31 knots from its three massive shafts which spun three-blade propellers. The turbines were fed by no fewer than 12 x Wagner brand high-pressure steam-heated boilers which were set amidships for maximum protection and were fitted into six watertight compartments as an added measure.

The Bismarck was unleashed onto the Atlantic after a lengthy eight month training period in the Baltic. On May 23, 1941, British ships attempted to intercept the mighty Bismarck and the heavy cruiser KMS Prinz Eugen on their way to Bergen. The two Royal Navy vessels, the HMS Prince of Wales and the HMS Hood were quick to respond though the German guns closed in quicker. As a result, the Hood suffered a catastrophic fire leading to an explosion thanks to the shells landed on her by the Prinz Eugen. The Prince of Wales suffers a direct hit to her bridge from the guns of the Bismarck. With the odds in Germany's favor, the British vessels were called off.

Seeing very little standing in their way, the Bismarck proceeded to enter the Atlantic playground until it was noticed that her lower structure took a hit and the system was leaking fuel. In an attempt to rectify the problem before the damage got out of hand, the captain of the Bismarck changed course for Brest and the fate of the Bismarck was sealed.

Despite eluding contact with British forces, several attacks were launched against the Bismarck when it was spotted, though these would lead to very little in the way of damage, allowing the Bismarck to live another day. Day in and day out, the Bismarck swam the waters towards safety until a transmission from her was intercepted by British forces, in effect allowing enemy forces to circle in on her position. On the night of May 26th, Fairey Swordfish torpedo aircraft struck the mighty ship again and delivered two direct hits, damaging the her steering.

The crippled vessel continued on despite the damage though her speed was severely limited and she couldn't turn whatsoever. At dawn the next day, the HMS Rodney and HMS King George V appeared and opened fire on the crippled ship and in as little as 30 minutes, the KMS Bismarck was no longer returning fire. By now, the Bismarck was a shell of the ship she was when she had left port, managing only to score a single hit on the Rodney in the process. A final torpedo from the HSM Dorsetshire finally sunk (no doubt aided by the German's own efforts to sink her than to be captured) the greatest battleship of the European Theater at 10:40 AM. Hitler's pride of the seas had finally been put in her place.

Differing reports of the account have surfaced leading most to believe in the notion that the sinking was attributed more to the German effort to sink their own ship. Research has backed this theory up to the extent that very little critical damage appears under the waterline of the vessel from torpedo damage though heavy damage to the superstructure is apparent. These findings would indicate that the Bismarck was in fact sunk by her owners than on any direct action of the Royal Navy - though one can imaging the ferocity of the shelling involved on their part. In any case, one can suppose the torpedo sinking of the greatest German battleship still remains a romantic scene than giving the Germans the last laugh.

The KMS Bismarck was crewed by nearly 2,200 personnel consisting of over 100 officers. The vessel was ordered in 1935, laid down in 1936, launched in 1939 and officially commissioned in 1940. Today, the Bismarck rests some 15,700 feet below the ocean's surface off the coast of Brest, France. The wreckage was discovered by Dr. Robert Ballard of Titanic fame in 1989. The battleship was the focus of the Hollywood motion picture Sink the Bismarck! in 1960.

KMS Deutschland / Lutzow

To curtail Hitlers fear of losing such a grand-named ship, the Deutschland was renamed the Lutzow and went on to serve through most of World War 2.

KMS Deutschland (later becoming the KMS Lutzow) was the lead ship of her class first ordered in 1928 and serving in the German Kriegsmarine before and during World War 2. Her original planning teams went in two directions - the class would be a heavy-armed monitor used for coastal defenses or as a fast cruiser-type ship with long range, and less armor. At this time France was seen as the most probable enemy so the second version was decided upon to inevitably prey on her merchant shipping.

The size and characteristics of an armored ship were limited by the Treaty of Versailles signed after World War 1, severely restricting Germany's war-making capabilities. The German Navy was therefore limited to 15,000 men, 6 battleships (each with a 10,000 ton displacement limit), 6 cruisers, 6 destroyers and no submarines. The British initially named this new class of ship as "pocket battleships" (Westentaschen-Schlachtschiffe), since they were essentially equal to cruisers of the day but notably outgunned these vessels.

A number of technical innovations, including the use of welding instead of rivets, were used in construction of these new German vessels. This construction technique proved beneficial for it reduced the type's weight. The use of new diesel engines instead of heavy oil engines made the hull even lighter. Deutschland was designed from the outset to be overweight despite the treaty limitations set forth. The German government made a habit of always falsifying new-build specifications, in this case indicating the vessel was only weighing 10,000 tons - just at the treaty's allowable limit. The Kriegsmarine reclassified this new breed of ship as heavy cruisers in February 1940. The concept behind this approach provided for a ship that was faster and more powerful than would-be enemy ships she would face such as like the HMS Hood, HMS Renown and HMS Repulse and more powerful than faster ship classes like light and heavy cruisers of the day. In a sense, this was a sound tactic in 1930.

At the Deutsche Werke shipyard in Kiel, construction began in 1929 and in 1931, she was officially launched with President von Hindenburg in attendance. Taking her maiden voyage in May 1932, Deutschland became the lead ship of her class but lacked the distinctive high conning tower, bridge, and masts of contemporary ships of the era. Between 1936 and 1939, during the Spanish Civil War, Deutschland was deployed to the Spanish coast in support of Franco's Nationalists. During one of these deployments in May 1937, Deutschland was attacked by two Republican bombers with 31 German sailors killed and 101 wounded. The dead German sailors were first taken to Gibraltar and buried on Spanish soil but, on Hitler's orders, these bodies were exhumed, loaded onto the Deutschland, and brought back to Germany for a publicized military funeral.

After the start of World War II, Adolf Hitler feared that the loss of a ship with the grand name of "Deutschland" would have a considerably negative impact on the German people's morale so the ship was renamed Lützow after a Prussian Lieutenant General, this occurring in November of 1939. In April of that year, Lutzow participated in the invasion of Norway where she followed the cruiser Blucher into the Oslofjord for the purpose to capture the Norwegian King and his government. At the Battle of Drobak Sound, the small German fleet had to sail past the aging fortress battery of guns (each some forty years old) leading the Germans to disregard their defensive value. Unknown to the Germans, however, was a torpedo battery buried within the fortress. As the Blucher passed the fortress defenses the Norwegians fired their torpedoes, sinking a cruiser. This action saved the Norwegian king and government from being taken captive in the first hours of the invasion until they could enact their escape to Britain. While Lutzow made her escape, the fortress managed to score three hits against her, knocking out the aft Bruno 28-centimetre (11 in) gun turret. After the German squadron had retreated out of Oscarsborg's range, Lutzow used her forward Anton turret to bombard the defenders from a range of 11 kilometers. The fortress was then bombed for good measure by the Luftwaffe on the same day, though no Norwegian casualties were reported.

Lutzow then returned to Germany for repairs and a refitting before leaving on a raiding mission into the Atlantic Ocean. Before she could make her scheduled run she was torpedoed by the British submarine HMS Spearfish in the Skagerrak north of Denmark. The torpedo struck the stern behind the torpedo blister protection nearly ripping off her entire stern. She was forced to Germany once again for repairs - keeping her out of action until the spring of 1941.

Patrolling in the northern Atlantic in June Lutzow was once again torpedoed - this time by an RAF Bristol Beaufort torpedo bomber - resulting in major damage and forcing yet another return to the port of Kiel in Germany for repairs. In December, she was present at the Battle of the Barents Sea. The battle was what Lutzow was built for in the "stronger-than-faster" ship concept. The German force was strong with the heavy cruiser KMS Admiral Hipper and pocket battleship Lutzow. The quarry was the Allied convoy JW51B on its way to deliver supplies to the USSR and protected by now fewer than six British destroyers. Hitler saw the battle of the surface raiders in the Barents Sea as the perfect mission for success. The battle took place in the Polar night with both sides reportedly having difficulty in recognizing one another. Each side, fearing torpedo attacks, continually broke off their attacks until the Germans retreated for good. British Force R shadowed the German ships as they carried on back to port. Upon the news, Hitler was infuriated at the outcome of the battle and decided not to increase the surface fleet, instead choosing to boost his fleet of U-boat submarines and make them his main threat to enemy shipping.

Lutzow took part in a variety of minor encounters during the next year. In September of 1944 in the Baltic Sea, she fired upon land targets in support of the retreating German Wehrmacht, a service she would continue to provide for several more months. Near Swinemünde, Germany in April 1945, Lutzow was again attacked by the RAF. RAF elements dropped a number of six-ton "Tallboy" bombs with three hitting Lutzow while she was still moored. After several enormous explosions, she sank to the bottom. Despite her damage, Lutzow was raised and repaired. From then on, she continued to provide artillery support for the German army as a mobile off-shore gun platform. KMS Lutzow was finally scuttled by her crew on May 4th, 1945 - quite the major disappointment to the ego and morale of the Kriegsmarine.

After the war, the Soviet Navy raised her and used her as a target ship. She was sunk for the last time in the Baltic Sea in 1949 by this action.


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